Web hosting explained for smart people.
Web hosting is an essential part (and expense) of running a website – you basically can’t have a website without a web host. The goal of this page is to help you in your purchase decision as well as educating you on the various terms, what they mean and what kind of web hosting you need.
The Best Hosting:
There are 3 hosts we like for different reasons.
SITEGROUND: The Host We use (also one of only 3 hosts recommended by WordPress)
The host this website uses. They provide unique in-house WordPress speed and security solutions to make your site as fast and secure as possible. They also offer automatic upgrades, built-in WP caching, and a CDN. They are lastly one of the few companies offering location specific hosting with 3 data centers in USA, Europe, and Asia.
Pros: Fast, reliable web hosting.
Cons: Expensive. Don’t go with SiteGround if you have a website that gets traffic surges from social media. Other hosts are flexible with traffic surges, not SiteGround. SG is fine great for niche websites that get a steady, predictable about of traffic month to month.
BLUE HOST: Blue Host is the best shared host (recommended by WordPress)
Blue Host provides excellent shared hosting for cheap as well as the ability to scale up. Blue Host is also a recommended host by WordPress.
Pros: The host you should probably start with if you’re looking for the best overall host that can handle a lot of traffic.
Cons: There cloud hosting is not as good as Host Gator, but if you’re looking for the most affordable, reliable shared hosting account, check out Blue Host.
HOST GATOR: The best cheap cloud hosting.
Host Gator offers some very affordable shared hosting, similar to Blue Host. But Blue Host provides faster hosting than Host Gator.
However, their “cloud” hosting option is excellent and quite affordable though a bit more expensive than Blue Host’s shared hosting plans (but not by much). Cloud hosting is a bit more complicated than a simple shared account (but by no means too complicated for your average guy or girl to use).
Pros: Good cloud hosting, average shared hosting, very good pricing overall.
Cons: Their shared hosting is hit or miss. Some days your site runs great, other days its a bit slower.
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS FREE WEB HOSTING?
Free web hosts exist. They provide decent resources for a small website that gets a minimal amount of traffic.
000Webhost – They provide totally free web hosting.
They have a cheap hosting option once your site grows, but there first tier plan is totally free. SO what is the catch? To provide this free level of service don’t expect any support. Equally, your website storage size is limited and you can have your account deleted at any time. It’s really not designed for professional use. Your load times will be a bit slow and your site may be down more than a paid service, but for free hosting, 000WebHost is not bad.
If you were just looking to get a simple website page up, 00WebHost may be for you.
Blogger – Blogger has been around for 10+ years. Known originally as blogspot.
If you’re willing to buy a domain name you can follow some tutorials to set a custom domain name for your blogger account so your website is named website.com and not website.blogger.com.
The cons? You’re not using WordPress and are missing out on all the themes and plugins that make WordPress websites so beautiful and effective. If you’re fine with being limited to the blogger platform with basic blogger themes then go for it. Blogger.com with a custom domain is one way you can get free hosting. You also don’t own your website (so not ideal if you’re planning on building a business!) and are at the mercy of any terms of service change blogger implements. BUY your hosting is totally free.
Weebly – A website builder offering free hosting
Weebly is a website builder. They offer a free plan. So all you would need to do is pay for a custom domain and be ok with having a limited free account with a few subtle ads for Weebly on your website. Ideal for a simple website. Say you just want a place to put your podcast episodes or to show pictures or blog. It’s fine.
BEST WORDPRESS HOSTING
What is the best hosting for WordPress? All web hosts today can handle WordPress. But for a WordPress specific host this is my advice:
- Host Gator if you want cloud hosting (more on this later).
- Blue Host if you want shared hosting.
- SiteGround if you want the best hosting and don’t mind paying a bit more.
If I had to pick for a friend, I would tell you to get a shared account with SiteGround for their blog or website they want to grow into a business. If it was just a little website that would not ever be getting a lot of traffic, I would say Blue Host then.
WHAT IS WEB HOSTING EXACTLY?
In order for a website to be live on the Internet it must be connected to a computer. If that computer is turned off, loses power, crashes etc, your website will no longer be visible which is why you need a computer that’s on 24/7.
In the early days of the Internet many individuals hosted sites on their own computer. Even the mega large dating site Plenty of Fish which serves up BILLIONS of page views and is the largest dating site in the world was hosted on the founders (Marcus Frind) home computer for the first 6 months of its existence.
But hosting your own site is not practical if you’re trying to build a stable income stream from the Internet, particularly when quality web hosting is so affordable and reliable.
WHY DO I NEED THIS?
When you type a web address like YouTube.com into a web browser like Firefox whats happening is that you’re sending a request for a specific web page (YouTube.com) from a server run by a web hosting company from somewhere in the world.
This is a pretty mundane task, but for exceptionally busy websites serving millions of visitors a day with millions of pages (like YouTube) it requires a tremendous amount of computing power.
You yourself can host a website with the computer you’re reading this on now (isn’t that amazing?) but it’s not worth the hassle and effort to get it set up.
Your computer would need special software to serve requests for web pages, and it would need to be on 24/7 or your website would be off line when your computer is off, AND it would need to have enough power to handle requests from around the world.
…SO CAN YOU REALLY DO IT YOURSELF?
In theory, sure why not. The world wide web is an open community and no one can stop you from doing what you wish (if you’re determined enough). But in practice – and for lack of a better word it’s stupid to host a site on your own.
There are several enormous challenges you must overcome:
A reliable computer.
That runs 24/7.
Has expensive and special web hosting software.
Is powerful enough to fulfill requests from around the world in under 5 seconds.
Has a special kind of connection to the Internet called a fixed IP address (your IP will change depending on where in the world you are logging in from).
IT’S REALLY NOT WORTH THE COST AND EFFORT TO DO THIS ON YOUR OWN
Web hosting companies came into existence for this reason -> to fulfill a need in the market by specializing in providing fast, reliable 24/7 web hosting at an affordable price.
These commercial companies like Host Gator and Blue Host have become known as web hosts and they provide web hosting in the form of shared hosting, reseller hosting, VPS hosting and dedicated server hosting.
To put it simply, you rent space on an industrial strength computer from a company. In turn that company takes care of the machine so you don’t have too and instead can worry about having your website reach a global audience.
But if you insist on learning how to host your own website, here is a solid guide.
GET STARTED WITH THIS FREE TUTORIAL:
If you’re curious about what web hosting is then you’re in the right spot. In this tutorial you will learn:
WEB HOSTING TERMS EXPLAINED
SHARED HOSTING: YOUR INTRODUCTION TO WEB HOSTING
CLOUD HOSTING – WHAT IS CLOUD HOSTING?
VPS HOSTING: WHEN DO YOU NEED A VIRTUAL PRIVATE SERVER?
RESELLER HOSTING: START YOUR OWN WEB HOSTING COMPANY
DEDICATED SERVER: PROS AND CONS
GET YOUR HOSTING ACCOUNT!
Web Hosting Terms Explained
A server is an industrial strength computer that stores the files for your website and is connected to the Internet 24/7.
Think of it like a tiny flash drive. When you plug that flash drive into a USB port on your computer and open a file you’re making a request for that data from the flash drive.
It’s much the same with a server except on a much more complex scale.
Your server has the websites files, a fixed IP address, and name servers defining that server.
Your website will have a fixed IP address too. At the domain registrar where you registered your site (Name Cheap) you simply define the name servers to that of your server.
So now when anyone goes to the IP address of your website or the name of your website a request will be made to the server where you files are and content will be delivered.
It’s like your hard drive. How much space do you have on your computer now? 100 GB of space? 200? Disk space is the same deal.
If you’re looking to build a simple site for your physical business, then you don’t need that much. If you’re looking to host movies and music then you need a lot more.
Also known as bit rate. Data, regardless of wireless or wired travels in units called bits. The channel capacity of a device like a server determines the speed of the bit rate (ie how fast and how much bits you can access when making a request).
This is why it takes time to download a song rather than being instantaneous. Bandwidth is the measure of bits consumed per second.
All you need to understand is that it’s database management software. It’s required to run things like WordPress, forums, and scripts.
Used to encrypt data (bits) during communication transfer. Think of like accessing this site. The data traveling from my server to your computer is not encrypted, it does not need to be as it’s not sensitive information.
Now think of inputting your credit card information to buy something. THAT information transfer you want and need encrypted. SSL and the newer TLS certificate are used for this purpose primarily by business.
Most hosts totday offer a free SSL certificate BUT you need to tell your host to activate it for you. Otherwise your site will simply be http instead of the more secure https.
C stands for control, it’s software to help you manage your account on your server with an intuitive, visual interface.
Plesk is an alternative to Cpanel. I recommend Cpanel for it’s ease of use. Why? Because it makes transferring your site easy if you ever decided to switch web hosts.
This stands for “Web Host Manager.” It’s software designed to manage multiple Cpanel (or Plesk) accounts on a server. You get WHM typical when you get hosting at the VPS level or above. In other words, when you have your own server, or virtual server you will typically have multiple websites (each with their own Cpanel account). WHM helps you manage these multiple accounts.
This term refers to how many domain names you can host on your account. Typically this feature is listed as “unlimited” for all but the most basic plans.
Cheap affordable (and reliable) hosting. Perfect for someone starting out, or someone wanting to build 1 or 2 new websites. Shared hosting means that you share your hosting with hundreds of other websites on ONE server.
The costs are low because multiple websites (all of which get minimal amounts of traffic) are on one machine.
Shared hosting is perfect if you’re launching a new website. Check out Blue Host, the recommended host of WordPress.
You have low amounts of traffic so it makes no sense to spend money on resources you’re not going to use. Also, you can always scale up as your website grows. For a more technical explanation for those who want to nerd out on shared hosting, check out the Wikipedia page.
SHARED HOSTING PROS
- Shared hosting is perfect if you’re just starting out online and have no web traffic.
- It has a low cost that allows for a low barrier of entry when creating a website.
- It can accommodate a few websites and a couple of thousand visitors a month.
- You can always scale up as your website becomes more popular.
SHARED HOSTING CONS
- You have little control over your hosting account beyond the most basic functions (which is fine if you’re just starting out from scratch).
- You’re sharing a server with hundreds of other websites. If one of those websites goes viral and gets tens of thousands of visitors it could affect the performance of your website.
- You have limited control over what scripts you can install. Scripts are programs that software that automate tasks or add additional features like forums.
- Your web hosting account can get suspended if your website gets an excessive amount of traffic or uses a heavy amount of scripts. Ideally if your site goes viral because of Facebook, Twitter, or StumbleUpon you want your site to live. But if it’s hosted on a shared account your web host may pull the plug on your site.
Distributed is the name of the game with cloud hosting. Check out Host Gator, they provide great Cloud Hosting.
When you purchase a cloud hosting plan what you’re buying are virtual resources that are spread across multiple computers that are acting as one. Cloud hosting has a lot of flexibility as your files and content are not one machine.
If more resources are needed because of a high traffic spike cloud hosting is great. It also has redundancy protection as multiple copies of your site are on multiple machines. So if there is a problem with one machine in the network, your content can easily be migrated to another machine.
In a nut shell, that’s cloud hosting.
Cloud hosting is very different and is typically the best option for new websites in my opinion. Where with other types of hosting like share hosting, all associated files are on one single machine that shares resources with other websites, cloud hosting however has your files spread across multiple computers.
Because of this, cloud hosting tends to be fast and reliable where a shared hosting account may be a bit less reliable (though cheaper).
CLOUD HOSTING PROS
Cloud hosting is a little bit more expensive than shared hosting, but the performance is a whole lot better.
Excellent up-time. Where a shared hosting package might be slow because a site on the server got a spike in traffic or perhaps there was some tech issue. On a cloud host, sites are simply migrated to another machine.
Cloud hosting beats shared hosting in every way. Better speed, better performance, more secure.
Managed WordPress cloud hosting is available and is much better than a share hosting package. Managed means the hosting company takes care of all the technical upgrades and software on the back end. So your package functions like a shared hosting package where you have limited controls ( a good thing if you don’t know what you’re doing).
CLOUD HOSTING CONS
If you do get a true cloud hosting package, you’re going to have to learn and develop some IT knowledge because you’ll be in complete control and also completely responsible for your virtual machine. It’s sort of like being given a motorcycle when you’ve have no idea how to even ride a bicycle. New software to learn, you’ll need to manage resources, updates and upgrade. This is what make a shared hosting account still a great option because it’s a “get it and forget it” option.
If you’re going to use a managed WordPress cloud hosting package you’ll be limited to what scripts and plug-ins you can use. Most managed WordPress plans will also restrict you to only using WordPress. So other scripts like forum software, Joomla or Drupal won’t be allowed.
Virtual Private Server (VPS)
A virtual private server (VPS) is like shared hosting but on a much bigger scale. Instead of sharing a server with hundreds other websites like you do on a shared account, your website and your hosting account is but one of maybe 4-6 other hosting accounts on a server. Because of this, you get greater resources to your websites, you’re able to handle larger amounts of traffic, and you have more account control on the back end.
A VPS is the middle ground when you need more resources than the highest level shared account, but not quite the resources (and the cost) of a full on server. A rule of thumb is to get a VPS when your website is getting 2,000 visitors a day, 100,000+ page views a month.
Keep in mind though, this is not always the case. E-commerce stores for example tend to need to scale up more quickly than a simple content driven website. Your web host will inform you when your website is starting to take up resources beyond your current account and what options you should begin looking at.
If you have no idea how to manage a VPS, get a “managed VPS” package. Managed means your web host takes care of the updates and security for your hosting account so all you have to do is manage your websites. If you just go out and get a non managed VPS on you’re own and it’s up to you to take care of security and updates. It’s more technical, so if that sound like something you would rather not do, just get a managed VPS.
Overall, you should get a VPS as soon as you can afford it in my opinion. You can afford it when your websites are making $500+ a month. Again, for those who want to nerd out and learn more about a VPS here is a more technical explanation here.
- You are guaranteed a certain level of resources because you own a certain percentage of a server.
- You’re still sharing resources, but it’s only with a few other websites (not hundreds).
- You’re account won’t be suspended.
- You have almost complete control over your server.
- VPS hosting is very powerful and can host dozens of sites and can handle thousands of visitors a day.
- You can resell hosting if you want.
- You can get managed VPS hosting where a company manages your VPS for you by taking care of software upgrades.
- VPS is overwhelming for new users. If you’ve never managed a website before and have no experience; getting a VPS is a lot like getting a 1000 CC motorcycle that you have no idea how to ride.
- New software like WHM to learn. It’s best to start with reseller hosting or shared hosting as a rookie because it gives you time to get comfortable with WordPress and Cpanel before moving onto more complicated setups where you have more control (not a good thing if you don’t know what you’re doing).
- You need to configure your own nameservers. You do this buy buying a domain name and setting that domain name as your nameserver. With shared hosting or reseller hosting you’re given a nameserver.
- VPS costs more.
Reseller hosting costs roughly the same as a VPS and is designed for you to resell the hosting to clients you work with. Say you’re making websites for clients – you could package a hosting account along with your design services.
Wait! Why would I do this instead of affiliate marketing for a web host?
If your a designer looking for a way to sweeten the deal for your clients AND you’re looking for a way to build recursive monthly income, go with reseller hosting. You won’t get the big one time affiliate commission, but you’ll develop a consistent monthly income.
Most reseller accounts start at $30 a month. So you would need to get 4 or 5 clients and put them on one reseller account and charge them say $14 a month. 14×4 = 56. So you would be making $56 dollars a month – the $30 for the reseller account. Giving you a profit of $26 a month so long as your clients stay on your account.
Why would anyone do this you might wonder? Why would a customer pay more? Well stupidity for one because people don’t shop around and are not aware of what things should cost, and second, the reseller (if he or she is smart), would offer tremendous bonuses for customers who use his or her reseller company.
If I was to start a reseller company, I may not be able to offer the most competitive prices, but I could offer more value through website instruction.
Why would anyone do this or need such an option?
It”s designed for professionals like web designers, programmers etc to be able to offer an added service to their own services. It’s also ideal for anyone who wants to undertake the difficult task of building a web hosting business by reselling the services of an already established web hosting company.
Can I just use reller hosting for my own websites?
Yes! You don’t have to resell the hosting, but if you’re just going to host your own websites why not get a managed VPS that is designed for one account.
Is affiliate marketing better?
I would say yes. Most web hosts, if you’re able to send new signups are happy to pay anywhere from $60 or more for new signups. If you did not actually have to mange the reseller account and be the tech support guy for your clients I would go with reseller hosting as it would scale slowly over time. But since you have to be part tech support I personally prefer to go with affiliate marketing.
A dedicated server is simply a large, powerful computer you can rent from a web hosting company. It’s ideal if you have a high traffic website or websites (a million+ of visitors a month with a tremendous amount of bandwidth usage).
Is a dedicated server right for you when starting out? NO WAY. This is designed for business that are getting traffic and making money and can justify the cost of spending $90 or more on a dedicated server.
DEDICATED SERVER PROS
- A dedicated server is the most expensive and powerful level of hosting for all but the most popular of websites.
- You get 100% of the resources dedicated to only you.
- You have nearly complete control of your server. It’s your machine and you can do whatever you want.
- Strong enough to handle tens of thousands of visitors a day.
- You can resell hosting to others.
DEDICATED SERVER CONS
- Not for novice users. There is a big learning curve with using a dedicated server.
- You need to setup nameservers.
- Expensive, BUT if your needs are as such, you should be pulling in more than enough money online to cover all associated costs.
Dedicated serves come with WHM (web hosting management). Same as a VPS. It’s a program that is designed to give you control over your whole entire server including various cpanel accounts and what not.
If you ever need a server, I would go with a managed dedicated server for the same reasons I would go with a manged VPS. I’m a soloprenur and I want to focus on marketing, content creation and lastly WordPress website design.
In that order. I don’t want to have to fuss around with learning how to manage a dedicated server. Now, if you have a team of people running a website. Maybe you built a massive website and now have a dedicated tech guy, then sure. Perhaps a standard server makes sense, for most though a managed server is the headache free solution.
That’s basically it for this introductory material on web hosting. If you had no idea what web hosting was before, you should have a much better grasp as to what your needs are.
If your starting out get a shared hosting account. Your options are many. But again our suggestions are Host Gator if you want cloud hosting, Blue Host if you want a cheap balance shared host and SiteGround if you want the best over all host but at a price.
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